Tim asks, "Would you mind telling us how the Lord
delivered you from that error? I have a dear friend who is caught in
that morass . . ."
Well, there are a number of factors. Looking back, I think a lot of it
has to do with how i entered into the view. I embraced "full preterism"
out of frustration and impatience. At the time that i decided to go all
in, i was a pastor-in-training at a reformed baptist church that taught
postmillennialism from the pulpit. So i was already a "partial preterist"
for about 2 years. One of the things i struggled with was how and when
to make the distinction between the ad70 "coming" and a future one. This
was just a natural question i had before ever hearing about "full
preterism". Then one day i was reading RC Sproul's book the "Last Days
According to Jesus", in which he interacts with J.S. Russell. I then
read Russell's book "The Parousia". Russell is like 99.9% full preterist.
The only verses in Revelation that he had going beyond ad70 was the
"thousand years". One of the biggest shockers in that book was his
reprint of a lecture by John Owen who taught that 2 Peter 3 was
fulfilled in ad70.
I started asking the elders what they made of all this. I was honestly
struggling with the question of where to *stop*. I mean, if one is going
to interpret 99% of the Bible as fulfilled, including a passage that is
almost always understood to be future (2 Peter 3), then why hang on to
the 1%? Why not go that route, rather than hang on to a few verses in
Revelation that were problematic to start with...so was my thinking. But
rather than sit me down and work through various texts, they pretty much
had the attitude that i needed to shut up and sit down. When i told one
elder, who was a big fan of Owen, about Owen's treatment of 2 Peter 3,
he accused me of lying. When i showed him the lecture a week later, he
scanned over it, handed it back to me, then turned around and walked
off. No apology. No, "hey Jason, sorry for accusing you of lying, but i
still disagree with that interpretation and here's why...." None of
While i take full responsibility for my actions, i think the treatment i
got from my elders once i started asking some questions, didn't help me
at all. I've learned alot from that as well. While i certainly agree
that heresies and heretics exist today, some christians could do much
better in how they handle these people. They didn't view me as
honestly struggling. They immediately viewed me as some cancer to
get rid of.
So i finally, at one point, just had to throw my hands up out of
frustration and dive in. I didn't know what else to do because the only
people i had around me to help wouldn't help; other than to beat
orthodoxy into me. lol.
One could say then, that i kinda went into full preterism on some shaky
ground. While i saw a strong preteristic leaning in Scripture, i still
had a ton of questions, especially how such a view would jive with my
calvinistic beliefs, which i saw just as strongly. But again, since my
church wasn't much help, i dove in thinking, "well, i'll work all this
out somehow." It was more wishful thinking than anything.
Shortly after, i was booted from the church and around that same time, i
was playing basketball at Briarwood Pres. in B'Ham one saturday, and
ended up running through a glass pane. It sliced my knee and i had to
have surgery. Then i couldn't work (foreman, lawncare) So here i was
without a church, lost most of my friends, and lost my job. During this
time, i had got in contact with a full pret in Tampa named Sam Frost. He
had a reformed background (two Masters) and was pastoring a "full pret"
church. I told him about my situation. A week or two later, one of the
pastors there called me up with a job offer at an appraisal company. I
thought, "well, i can move to Tampa, start working again, and attend a
church where i would be welcomed." So i went.
I think that move to FL was another huge factor, because once i got into
an atmosphere where i was welcomed, all that pressure and sense of
urgency to work out the systematic/reformed questions was put on the
back burner. I wasn't in any rush. My fellowship wasn't being
threatened, etc. Sam then introduced me to the full pret community
online, and that gave me a lot of comfort. "Wow, there are hundreds of
people just like me." When you get a bunch of people like that together,
who share similar church battle stories, there's just something about
it. You feel important. You feel like your part of something again.
I became part of a "community" that was basically in the same place i
was...saw strong preteristic leanings in Scripture, wasn't sure how to
stop going the full route, got into some battles with churches, gave up
out of frustration, and dove in.
All during this time though, i always left a foot in the "orthodox"
door. 99% of my library is orthodox, so i never just completely removed
myself from it. So the questions of how full preterism and reformed
thought jived still loomed around in the back of my mind, but all the
excitement of the "community" and the thought that we were leading a
"new reformation", got the best of me.
Looking back now, i can see that what was needed was something to jar me
out of this wishful thinking...get my head out of the clouds. Something
to force me to answer these systematic/reformed questions. That's when
'Covenant Creationism' showed up.
Covenant Creationism is a movement within full preterism that began to
take the "local", "Israel only" eschatological understanding of full
preterism and read that back into the Creation account. They argued that
if full preterists were going to be consistent, they needed to match the
end of the Bible with the beginning. Thus, Genesis 1 is no longer about
creation. It's about the formation of Israel as a nation. And many of
the elements (lights, seas, etc.) were turned into metaphors. This, of
course, then allowed evolution and other crazy stuff to creep in. And
then the question about Adam came up. Was he historical? What about
Romans 5? So on and so on.
I witnessed this group go down this path of just complete craziness,
toppling over a lot of what i deemed to be 'essential' doctrine. And
even full pret friends of mine who didn't agree with the Cov
Creationist, still thought it should be given a platform. As the creator
of one of the most active full pret communities online, i had a serious
problem with this and started using the network to go after the Cov
This battle with them did three things: (1) The sense of 'unity' that i
thought i had with full prets was shattered. The Cov Creationists were
saying that I could not even call myself a full preterist unless i went
that route. I found myself now fighting more with other full preterists
then i did with non full prets. (2) I began to notice that many of the
arguments used to make their case were very similar to how full prets
argued in general. Things like, "well how would the original audience
have understood it?" and "well if that word means this here, then it
must mean that there". (3) Because their conclusions were so radical, i
began to appreciate more the whole "systematics" issue, which in turn
forced me to start addressing the stuff i had laid aside.
I would say that all this triggered it. But there's one more important
factor. My buddy Sam, who was fighting these cov creationists as well,
was reading something in Clark about "infinity" and then it dawned on
him, "how can the doctrine of election jive with a view that teaches
that the number of elect will go on forever?" This then led him back to
systematics and reviewing the nature of God, etc. He ended up concluding
that there was no way this was possible, and argued that there had to be
a future consummation.
The guys at Triablogue have actually brought this issue up years ago,
but none of the full prets did anything with it. They wrote,
"Many HPs consider themselves to be
reformed soteriologically. That entails believing that God
has ordained a particular number of people to everlasting
life. The number is set, no more no less. So, it may be,
100,000 million, for all we know. The problem is that HPism
teaches that the earth will remain forever and there will be
people entering into the New Covenant for the "rest" of
time. If so, there is not a specific number elected to
eternal life but an infinite number. Also, there will be an
infinite amount of people in heaven and outside the city.
Since the earth goes on forever, and people will forever be
put into one of those places, then both places will have the
same amount of people! This is like "Hotel Infinity:"
So basically, Sam, doing his own thing, hit this same
wall, even taking it further than Triablogue did by asking how a view of
"infinite history/procreation" relates to the nature/knowledge of God,
and tried to work out a solution and couldn't...well, at least without
going down some semi pelagian/open/process route. He produced a number
of articles on it
At first, i couldn't wrap my mind around it, but eventually i came to
agree with Sam. There has to be a telos, if reformed thought is to be
maintained. And there was just simply no way i was going to dump all of
my reformed thought for some ill-defined view that was getting crazier
and crazier over time.
This then led me back into Reformed Systematics and as i read it now, i
have come to appreciate more and more the "system" aspect of theology.
Reading things in light of the WHOLE.
This infinity issue also brought out some strong criticisms from some of
the "grandfathers" of full preterism, in which they have stated clearly
that full preterism was originally developed within a church of christ/semi-pelagian
view of things. Many of the original big shots within the camp have
argued that one MUST leave behind, not only reformed thinking, but even
things considered fundamental to Christianity in general.
I know anti-full prets have been saying this for years, but i guess i
just had to learn the hard way. What they "talked about", i actually
witnessed and experienced for 7 years.
The full pret community is made up of a TON of folks who have a very
poor understanding of how the WHOLE of theology works....systematics.
I don't know where your friend is at in relation to reformed thought,
but i would say that that is what eventually "saved" me. Full Preterism
and Reformed thinking can not mix. If he claims to be "reformed", as
many full prets do, you need to press him on this, systematically, and
show him how full preterism topples ALL of it over. If he's arminian/semipelagian/pelagian,
then, well, i don't know how far you'll get, because in my opinion, the
"potentiality" view of the future that full preterism has to teach (no
scriptures speak to our future) fits right in with such thought. The
King group (Max, Tim) have gone right into process theology.
Well, that's my short answer. rofl. Help any?
I see you're from Canada. You're not referring to Jean-Pierre of
Chateauguay/Montreal, are you?